SAN JUAN – Cuban writer and journalist Carlos Franqui, a former ally of Fidel Castro and editor of an underground newspaper who later broke with the revolutionary government, has died in Puerto Rico. He was 89.
Franqui, who was born in 1921 in central Cuba and died Friday, was named editor of the Revolucion newspaper after the launch of Castro’s guerrilla struggle, although his independent editorial line later cost him his position.
The Caribbean author affiliated himself with Castro’s 26th of July movement after Fulgencio Batista came to power in a coup and he was later arrested several times and forced into exile in Mexico.
He subsequently joined up with the revolutionary struggle in the 1950s in Cuba’s Sierra Maestra mountains, where he headed Revolucion, the guerrillas’ clandestine newspaper, and the Radio Rebelde radio station.
The Cuban writer had a falling-out years later with Castro’s regime and went to Europe, where he met and associated himself with leading artists and intellectuals.
Labeled a traitor by Havana and accused of having ties to the CIA, he wrote several works about the Cuban Revolution, including “El libro de los doce” (The Book of the 12) and “Diario de la revolucion cubana” (Diary of the Cuban Revolution).
Franqui’s formal break with the regime in Havana came in 1968, when he signed a letter condemning the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Among his most important initiatives was the organizing of the Salon de Mayo conference in Havana in 1967, an event that drew leading artists from all over the world.
In 1996, the Cuban intellectual founded in Puerto Rico the quarterly literary magazine Carta de Cuba, in which works by Cuban writers and journalists were published.
Franqui spent the last years of his life in relative obscurity in Puerto Rico and his death went virtually unnoticed by that Caribbean island’s media.